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May 27, 5:38 PM EDT

Business Highlights


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US economy showing signs of life after slow start to year

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. economy is showing signs of more life after a less-than-stellar start to the year.

The government said Friday that first-quarter growth, while disappointing, wasn't as bad as first thought. And a number of more recent indicators are showing decent gains in key areas like consumer spending and housing.

All the signs point to an economy that has probably doubled its momentum this quarter. But faster growth also raises the prospect that the Federal Reserve will want to nudge interest rates higher.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said exactly that at an appearance Friday at Harvard University. She noted that after weak growth in the fourth quarter of last year and the first three months of this year, it "looks to be picking up from the various data that we monitor."

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8 automakers recall over 12M vehicles for Takata air bags

Eight automakers are recalling more than 12 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators.

Documents detailing recalls by Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Ferrari and Mitsubishi were posted Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

They're part of a massive expansion of Takata air bag recalls announced earlier this month. Seventeen automakers are adding 35 million-to-40 million inflators to what already was the largest auto recall in U.S. history. In addition, the Japanese transport ministry on Friday announced 7 million more Takata-related recalls covering air bag inflators without a chemical drying agent.

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Holiday air travelers get a break from long security lines

ATLANTA (AP) - Travelers who were dreading long airport security lines ahead of the Memorial Day weekend instead reported moving quickly through checkpoints Friday after authorities opened extra screening lanes and used bomb-sniffing dogs to give some passengers a break from removing their shoes.

As the busy summer travel season kicked off, the federal Transportation Security Administration tried to offer travelers some relief after weeks of slow-moving lines blamed on an increase in the number of air travelers and a shortage of TSA security officers.

A TSA spokesman said the extra dogs would remain well beyond the holiday.

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Stocks rise to wrap up a strong week as banks move higher

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks rose Friday to wrap up their strongest week in almost three months. Banks gained ground after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank intends to keep raising interest rates provided the economy continues to improve.

Stocks turned higher over the last few hours of trading to finish at their highest levels of the day. Banks made the largest gains, as they stand to make bigger profits on lending if interest rates rise further. Phone companies traded higher after Verizon reportedly agreed in principle to a new contract with striking employees. Alphabet led technology stocks higher.

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US consumer sentiment up in May to highest in nearly a year

WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans turned more optimistic about the economy in May than the previous month, buoyed by steady hiring and higher incomes.

The University of Michigan said Friday that its index of consumer sentiment rose to 94.7 in May, the highest in nearly a year. The increase could drive greater economic growth, as a more optimistic consumer is typically more likely to spend. Consumer spending accounts for roughly 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.

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Verizon, unions reach deal in principle for 4-year contract

NEW YORK (AP) - Striking Verizon employees may be back to work next week after the company and its unions reached an agreement in principle for a four-year contract.

About 39,000 landline and cable employees in nine Eastern states and Washington, D.C., have been on strike since mid-April, one of the largest strikes in the U.S. in recent years. Verizon had trained other workers to step in but there were still delays in installations for Fios customers.

The union and Verizon are not giving details of the contract, so it's not clear yet what the agreement entails for workers.

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Google-backed Magic Leap alleges workers stole its secrets

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Artificial reality startup Magic Leap is accusing two Silicon Valley employees of stealing the closely guarded secrets behind its technological tricks.

The allegations of betrayal and skullduggery surfaced in a lawsuit that Magic Leap filed late Thursday in federal court after the two workers, Gary Bradski and Adrian Kaehler, sued the company for wrongful termination earlier this week. An attorney for Bradski and Kaehler denied the company's allegations.

The legal tussle over intellectual property and stock options highlights the rising stakes in artificial reality as more technology companies bet it will produce the industry's next big breakthroughs.

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Hercules Offshore strikes deal with lenders

NEW YORK (AP) - Oilfield services company Hercules Offshore has worked out an agreement with lenders before it seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the second time will have done so in less than year.

This time, however, the company is selling assets to pay off investors.

Hercules transferred the right to acquire the rig, formerly named Hercules Highlander, to a subsidiary of Maersk Drilling. Maersk Highlander UK Ltd. succeeds to the right to take delivery of the rig and will settle the final payment of approximately $196 million with Jurong.

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Lager law: Attorneys' guild formed for craft brewers, others

DETROIT (AP) - A legal trade group has been formed for the makers of craft beer and other alcoholic beverages, recognizing the rapid rise of the industry and a desire to deal with a thick brew of regulations across the U.S.

The Craft Beverage Lawyers Guild launched this week to represent mainly small, independent breweries, but also wineries and distilleries. The guild's governing committee consists of about a dozen lawyers specializing in the craft beverage industry, including attorneys working directly for some of the nation's biggest brewpubs and microbreweries.

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EU launches effort against 'grey economy' of undeclared work

BRUSSELS (AP) - The European Union is launching an effort to contain the so-called "grey economy" of undeclared and untaxed work.

In the grey economy, workers are often required to work long hours at low pay in unhealthy conditions. The evasion of taxes on labor, meanwhile, undermines Europe's efforts to sustain a welfare system. Under its new plan, the EU will seek to exchange best practices to combat undeclared work among the 28 member states and boost common projects.

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Company recalls spill-proof cups due to risk of mold

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 3 million spill-proof cups for children between 4 and 12 months old are being recalled by Mayborn USA because of the risk of mold that could cause sickness.

Ingestion of the mold can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and infections in those with compromised immune systems. Mayborn has received more than 3,000 reports of mold in the removable, one-piece, opaque valve of the cups, including 68 reports of children experiencing diarrhea, vomiting or other symptoms associated with drinking from a cup with mold in the valve.

This recall involves five types of spill-proof Tommee Tippee Sippee cups, all with a removable, one-piece white valve.

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The Dow Jones industrial average gained 44.93 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,873.22. The Standard & Poor's 500 index advanced 8.96 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,099.06. The Nasdaq composite index jumped 31.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,933.50.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 15 cents to $49.33 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, gave up 27 cents to $49.32 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.63 a gallon. Heating oil fell 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon. Natural gas rose 2 cents to $2.17 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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